Do you have a pingpong table at the office?

This post was part of our Remote Circle email cycle.


Let me give you two examples of company culture. As you might know, my background is in advertising and I spent a chunk of my in-office career in London as an executive, mostly as a head of social at digital agencies. Anyway, I worked at two different companies, they had different approaches to company culture. 

The first one was a big fish. We had a full-glass office located in the very downtown City of London, more than 800 people on the payroll and we worked pretty much anyone who could pay the $1K hourly rate. I personally worked on a government project, which you believe it or not was fun to work on. Anyway, we had a pool table, overlooking the skyline of other full-glass skyscrapers, we had a private bar where booze was served on Friday afternoons. We got free lunches, all bio-organic and obviously, we had Nespresso machines serving lattes, plus corporate MacBook for everyone. 

And working there was sucked.

There was no control over communication, no one had a clue on what to do, chaos was intense and everyone was busy doing marathon meetings - which is not working. The team spirit was non-existent and I have rarely seen people spending time in the office after 7 pm. Everyone came in and chewed up in a matter of months, the team had an unbearably low retention rate. I was on a day-rate for $500 - never had a better paying job in my life ever. Still, I left the company after half a year. It was just, bad. I felt I was hanging on the rope, alone, just doing the grind and even though I loved my client - seriously, amazing work, we helped to build the Longer Lives project for the British-version of the CDC, check here - the work with the client wasn't enough. I had to quit. No culture = no retention.

The second one was a small agency. It was my first gig in London, you know, a guy came from Eastern Europe with questionable credentials, I had to take anything to get me up to speed. The agency had around 30 people - it's considered small in London -, the office wasn't in a full-glass skyscraper in the City, but a mediocre office building in Richmond, far away from the buzz. The agency had local campaigns only. Oh, we didn't have a pool table, no private bar, I had to bring my own laptop and my salary was nothing compared to my other gigs. Plus I lived in the City and had to spend 2 hours commuting to the office. 

Working there was amazing. 

I even felt ashamed a bit when I left. I still have friends from there, regularly meeting in London, when I'm there. I left because of an offer from my first example. At that time, I felt I had to give it a try, working as a MadMen-stereotype, which turned out to be a disaster later. I still have fond memories - the team was super friendly, we had a cohesive spirit, we worked together with cooperation, everything was super clear, everyone knew what to do and who's responsible for it. Yeah, the coffee was crap - I can't stand British coffee btw - but we stayed in the office after 7 pm because we backed each other on projects. We also had drinks in the local pub every Friday and sometimes we went to the local park to play rugby, because why not. But these were just bonuses, not the reasons why it was amazing to work there.

Company culture is not about having a pingpong table in your office. It is about HOW you work. Check my full article on this here: COMPANY CULTURE IS ABOUT HOW YOU WORK.

How would you define company culture? Tell me, I'm curious to know. 

Speak soon,
- Peter


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